Author: Joanna Nadin
*Publication Date: October 9, 2012*
Picture Perfect: okay
Protagonist Pizzaz: high
Va va va voice: lyrical and raw
Summary from Goodreads- When sixteen-year-old Billie Paradise unexpectedly inherits her grandmother’s house, it couldn’t come at a better time. With her stepdad abroad and her mom starting to lose it, moving from their cramped London apartment to an old house by the sea seems serendipitous. Maybe Billie, as she navigates the small-town social scene and falls for a certain intriguing older boy, can even find the father she never met. But her mom’s remote childhood home, which she left in haste before Billie was born, harbors hints of suspicious long-ago deaths and family secrets. As Billie’s story unfolds, flowing back and forth in time and through alternate points of view, it becomes clear that while people may die, the past lives forever.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this book. The cover is kind of blah, and the plot summary on NetGalley didn’t seem all that interesting. Let’s just say I won’t judge a book by its cover or its one-sentence summary again.
I absolutely loved this book. I’d never heard of Joanna Nadin before, but after reading Paradise I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of her work. I loved her raw, lyrical prose. It reminded me a lot of Beth Kephart, one of my all-time favorite YA novelists.
This story was what I like to call slowly unraveling. There wasn’t much traditional “action”, because the action all happened within Billie, the protagonist, and in the chapters revolving around her family members.
Something I really liked about “Paradise” was how we got to experience the story of the present-day Paradises through Billie’s first-person narrative, but then got to go back and see things from the perspective of Het, Eleanor, etc. For some reason, the way Nadin put the story together managed to keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time.
The story was twisty and turny without being in your face about it. I felt like a lot happened under the surface, and I like stories where you’re not given everything on a silver platter.
However, I do wish we had gotten to see more of Het’s inner struggles in the present day. I mean, we get a pretty good idea that she’s a little off, but I just wanted a little more. I also wish there had been maybe a couple more clues about what happened with Will, Jonty, and Billie’s father.
All in all though, “Paradise” was an extremely poetic, romantic story and excellent surprise and I can’t wait to see more from Joanna Nadin.